Foundation to Business Success: Adopting Change Effectively

“If you’re looking for a sure way to make enemies, change something”
President Woodrow Wilson

All of us have experienced change in our businesses. These changes are necessary in order to respond to market needs, expanded or increased business growth, presence of new competition in the marketplace or the need to stimulate the organization to perform at a higher level. However, not everyone in our organizations view the need for change as an imperative to adopt in order to perpetuate the business and help it remain viable and competitive.

Why do we find employees so ready to resist change?
It often begins when we recruit and hire employees with what they believe they were “promised” as a job role and responsibilities. On the other hand it may be us in leadership who allow the organization to continue to operate past a point when change was necessary but we procrastinated or allowed ourselves to be distracted by other more important issues.

Highly competitive companies master the ability to change when conditions dictate. Key people are recruited who show an ability to recognize when it is time to make a change and are change enablers. They lead the change process and help other who are less likely to accept change to get over the hurdles that they imagine are in the way of success.

Is your organization change enabled?

  • Do you have key people who are able to recognize when existing business practices are out of date or inappropriate for the current business condition?
  • Are these key performers able to coach others who are fundamental to the successful adoption of changing business practices and to see it as a positive change and not one that threatens them?
  • Are your key performers measured on their ability to support change in addition to the other performance factors that they are expected to do as part of the their professional responsibilities?

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
Too often business owners are a stick in the mud when change is needed as it often means accepting the ideas of others, often much younger and newer to the company, to obsolete or significantly modify business practices that you personally established. Is your first reaction to a suggestion to make a change defensive or supportive? How you are viewed as a change enabler – open to new ideas, encouraging those who take a risk, willing to let people take responsibility, and forgiving if the change is not totally successful the first time – will determine how likely your company will react to change and implement it successfully.

Look for opportunities to encourage the “young Turks” in your organization to question what they are doing to see if it is the best way for the company to serve customers, design quality products, reduce the time to get new products to the market and control product cost. Determine if you have an appropriate process to handle change so that the change fits your company ethics, avoids conflicts elsewhere in the company, and involves the necessary parties that need to be involved. A very important test is to ask your employees (and in some cases customers) to assess whether your change process is successful or not.

Employees are most satisfied when they use business practices that are tuned to the benefit the business environment that they serve and possess an avenue to change these practices when they have a better idea or see a conflict when special circumstances occur. The stress level of employees can be reduced significantly if they can see a realistic way to influence how they perform their responsibilities. Regularly examine the health of your company based upon its ability to change and change successfully in addition to P/L, Balance Sheet and the other measures by which we score our businesses.

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